By Katrine van Wyk
Here are 10 very good reasons for why you should eat seasonally.
Produce that have been allowed to fully ripen in the sun taste amazing! Freshly picked produce has the optimal flavor – crispy, fragrant, juicy and colorful. Those summer heirloom tomatoes make all other tomatoes seem inferior. You can eat it like an apple; raw, warm from the sun and straight from the vine.
Plants get their nourishment from the sun and soil. Seasonally fresh produce is picked when they’re ripe and fully developed. The plant has had more sun exposure, which means it will have higher levels of antioxidants! Studies have also found that the level of iodine and beta-carotene in milk is higher in the summer than in the winter months – ice cream anyone?
Simply supply and demand. When there’s abundance of a product, such as watermelons in the summer, the prices go down. Seasonal food is much cheaper to produce for the farmers who would rather sell their products for a lower price, than not at all. Cash in on the seasonal bounty.
Seasonal produce can grow without too much added human assistance i.e. pesticides and genetically modification. We know how these toxic compounds can contaminate the water and soil and also our health. Seasonal food is more likely to be locally produced as well, which reduces the load on our environment due to transport, or “food mileage”.
Getting to know where your food is coming from, who is growing your food and how they do it also makes you feel more connected to that whole process. CSA’s and farmer's markets create communities around food that encourage us to share our knowledge, ask questions and engage in our own local environment. Together we are more powerful and big change can happen.
6. Home Cooking
Eating seasonally also forces you to cook more -- and there really is nothing better you could do for your health. When you start to take back control of what you put in to your body, which oil you choose to cook with, how much sugar you add to your food etc, you are consciously making better choices for your health. Cooking is also a great activity to do with your kids, family and friends. And, what better way to show your love?
7. Creativity and Variety
Whether you shop at the market or you’re part of a CSA, eating seasonally keeps challenging your creativity to come up with new, fun and delicious dishes based on what you find. Maybe you choose to google a recipe, look through some cookbooks or go on Pinterest to find new inspiration and ideas about what to do with all that kale. Variety is also healthy for our bodies; by changing our menu according to what’s available you are also less likely to develop food intolerances.
8. Support of Your Seasonal Needs
The natural cycle of produce is perfectly designed to support our health.
Apples grow in the fall and they are the perfect transition food helping the body get rid of excess heat and cool down before winter. In the spring the abundance of leafy greens help us alkalize, detox and loose some extra pounds after a long winter of heavier foods. In the summer we need to cool down and stay hydrated by eating more fruits, berries, cucumber, watermelon etc. Building a lifestyle around seasonal food facilitates the body’s natural healing process.
9. Organic/Free of Pesticides
Food grown outside of their season or natural environment need a lot more human assistance in forms of pesticides, waxes, chemicals and preservatives to grow and look appealing to us consumers. By choosing local and seasonal food, you are also more likely to get a cleaner product! Many small family farms cannot afford to go through organic certification but still follow very natural and healthy growing practices. So when shopping at the farmers market you don’t have to be as carful about finding the “organic” produce as you are when shopping at the super market.
Living in tune with nature’s rhythm makes us more aware and appreciative of the beauty around us. We can live in balance with our surroundings instead of constantly butt up against and living in conflict with nature. Embracing the natural rhythm of things also helps simplify our lives. The options are limited and we can trust that our food is nourishing and good for us!